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Media opportunity: Adolescent girls with family history of mood disorders more prone to increased weight gain starting at age 12, according to unique study by Dalhousie University researchers
Mood disorders have often been linked to elevated body weight and physical illness, with studies showing a clear connection between certain mental health conditions and increased body mass index (BMI) in adults. Studies have also shown that adolescent obesity is tied to adult depression and vice versa.
Research also shows that children whose parents are diagnosed with a mood disorder are more likely to develop one themselves compared to children without this family history. But what is not yet known is whether increased weight precedes mood problems, like bipolar disorder or a major depressive disorder.
Researchers at Dalhousie University addressed the issue in a paper published today that followed youth to find out if those with a family history of mood disorders had increased body weight and, if so, when that difference is first seen.
They examined data from 394 youth aged three to 20 over an average of five years, comparing body weight in youth whose parents had a mood disorder to those whose parents did not have one.
Their research reveals that female youth with a family history of mood disorders had increased BMIs beginning at age 12, and that young males with or without family mood disorder risk showed no differences in body mass indexes.
Nitya Adepalli, a research associate in Dal's Department of Psychiatry, and Rudolf Uher, a Psychiatry professor, led the study and are available to discuss the findings, which suggest that this group of female youth may benefit most from interventions supporting both mental and physical well-being in the face of immense pressure related to body image.
Senior Research Reporter
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